In the next section of Francis Schaeffer’s book, The Mark of the Christian, Schaeffer carefully suggests to us how to properly disagree. [This is the 14th post in analytically blogging my way through Schaeffer’s book.]
In the previous two sections, he has introduced us to the need to say we’re sorry and to grant forgiveness; for without these two very practical steps, our love will only be a good idea. But how are we to handle honest disagreement, and disagreement that surfaces over matter of holiness, or lack thereof?
WHEN CHRISTIANS DISAGREE
First when dealing with sin or holiness, Schaeffer appeals to the example of how Paul admonishes the Corinthian church (1 Cor. 5:1-5) for their failure to directly and forcefully deal with a clear matter of sin in their midst. Thus, sin cannot go unattended by the church. To do so is to ignore the holiness of God, our witness to the world, and to violate God’s law (p. 25).
Conversely—and do not miss the irony—Paul will later write to scold them for not properly loving and accepting this repentant brother back into the fellowship of the church (2 Cor. 2:6-8).
The point: we must have, and display, a proper—and very delicate—balance between exercising rightful justice and giving proper love; that is, living and showing: “grace and truth.”
Why, Schaeffer reminds us again of the apologetical nature of our Christian relationships when he concludes with this imagined quote from Jesus to the church family at Corinth: "Don't you realize that the surrounding pagans of Corinth have a right to say that Jesus was not sent by the Father because you are not showing love to this man that you properly disciplined?" (p. 26).
Key statements from this section (p. 25-26):
What happens, then, when we must differ with other brothers in Christ because of the need also to show forth God's holiness either in doctrine or in life?
First, in I Corinthians 5:1-5 he scolds the Corinthian church for allowing a man in the midst of fornication to stay in the church without discipline. … After they have disciplined him, Paul writes again to them in II Corinthians 2:6-8 and scolds them because they are not showing love toward him.
These two things must stand together.
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3 John 8